Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Fred Vultee


The health of the American democracy is up for debate. Digital natives will decide the future of this democracy. Fewer digital natives--those who have grown up with Internet access--are engaging in formal political participation, compared to their parents. Digital natives lack the information needed to participate. This study examined the effects of interactive political content on digital natives' political information efficacy (PIE) through an experiment. The results revealed a decrease in the participants' political confidence and a decrease in the likelihood they would vote. Exposure to political information harmed most digital natives' PIE and reinforced political attitudes in some. The results are troubling for the future health of the American democracy. The results call attention to the need for further research on the relationship between digital natives' use of new communication technologies and its effect on political participation.